The street in Asheville, North Carolina winds down a few blocks to the stump of a brick building from another incarnation. Once a house, once a business, old bricks shed their red dust from the decades of storms. Over the entrance door, the current sign carved and painted in wood shows an angry bear standing over a donkey looking sleepy in the other direction. The name painted beneath each animal Bear Ass Pub and Brew. With the name Bear Ass, the casual visitor may expect nearly naked servers, and maybe even a pole for half time dancing. But, not so the case of the local Pub and Brew. Occasional visits from convention attendees, guys hoping for bad luck to strike will wander in, look around, and order a brew. Once they stood as much quiet as they could, they’d ask the bar tender, “Where’s the action?”
“This is it Pal,” is the usual answer that chases the intruder away.
Darkness inside the pub secreted the conversations of locals. One morning not long ago, the door opened letting an eye melting glare of hot sunlight shoot in. Woody came in wearing his favorite vintage Wilsons leather jacket. Woody liked that old windbreaker style with the collar up around his neck like a turtle and the full front length unzipped and open. His garment spoke cool sleek seventies suburban and not that bulky motorcycle jacket or aviators bundle with a wool collar. Woody liked cool.
“You must be happy to see me,” said John when he noticed a bulge on Woody’s right upper thigh. “When did you start packing?”
“Since the world has gone ape shit,” Woody answered.
“I did not know you to be a gun enthusiast.”
Woody pulled up on the stool next to John and signed Eve to bring some coffee.
“You bet I am. I call this baby my round trip.”
“You named your gun round trip?”
Eve poured coffee for Woody, “What’s that I saw in your pants Woody?”
“Just explaining to John here the good sense of the concealed carry permit here in the great state of North Carolina.”
John added, “He named his gun round trip?”
“Strange name,” offered Eve.
“Makes perfect sense,” Woody said. He patted the holster, “She’s called round trip because if I go some where, she is insurance that I’ll come back.”
Eve laughed, John snorted out a chuckle. When she turned to check on old man Kirkland down at the other end of the bar, John said, “That is one fancy holster.”
“Special order from Galco.”
“Just about the biggest leather company there is. Police, military, and people all over the world buy their stuff. They’re even popular in the movies.”
“Hmm,” John sipped coffee, “never heard of ‘em.”
“Back in the sixties they started up in Chicago and at the time was called the Famous Jackass Leather Company.”
John leaned back to laugh out loud, “Jackass Leather, you could be their spokesman.”
“They called it that because the guy that started the business was so damned hard headed about quality. They changed it to Galco when they moved to Arizona in the eighties. According to what I read, Chicago banned firearms in 1982.”
“That would hurt sales for a gun holster company for sure,” said John.
Eve returned, “Top it off?’
Woody tipped his cup to her and listened to her advice, “Better stay away from Pack Square. Protesters will have your hide.”
Just up the street and over a few blocks at Spruce Street and College Street, Pack Square has been a gathering place for locals to get vocal since George Pack donated the green space more than a century ago. Over the years, festivals, fireworks, holidays, and protesters have marched, spoke out, made a point or two and gone back home. Gun control would sure be on the list.
“Yeah, well, the only protests up there ever caught my attention was the Go Topless Day.”
“That the day all the ladies take off their blouses?” asked John.
“What could be better?” Woody answered.
Eve jumped in, “You boys should know the ladies do that for a good reason.”
“Hell, they don’t need no reason to show off their boobs.”
“The event,” she corrected sternly, “is to call attention every year to women’s right to vote. “You know damn well laws that rule men and women differently are just wrong. I went last year.”
“Did you reveal your girls?”
“As a matter of fact, I did.”
“Damn, wish I’d been there,” said Woody.
“We can hardly get you to pour coffee,” added John. “And you go downtown and strip in broad daylight. What is this world coming to?”
Eve poured coffee with enough force to splash over onto the counter, “I have you know,” she now added some emphasis, “The lady that organized the thing gave a speech and said it clear that we live in a country that says it is all right for some man to carry a gun in public – but my breasts are an offense.”
She cupped both breasts in her hands and waved them back and forth near the guy’s faces.
“The smart folks in Raleigh laid out some rules about packing,” said Woody. “I do not recall such restrictions here in Asheville about wiggling your jigglies in public.”
“Got to be twenty one, no driving offenses on record, can’t be no criminal, and must be sane or least show some damn common sense.”
Eve smiled and questioned, “How the hell they let you get qualified. All I can see is the fact that you are way past twenty one.”
“Damn woman,” he said and stood up. “Let me show you what for.”
Woody pulled back the opening of his leather jacket to reveal a shiny leather belt holster, “This here is the special order exotic shark holster. And, my baby I call round trip here is a Glock 19. The famous one on television and in the movies.”
“You know how to use that gun?” She asked.
Woody drew the gun from the belt and proudly displayed the four inch barrel.
Eve couldn’t help but say, “All you got is four inches?”
John laughed, but the insult rattled Woody a bit. Acting like some cop he had seen on TV, he raised the gun in his right hand and began to rack a slide. He squeezed the grip with his left hand, as he held the slide and pushed the gun forward and back to load the round. As soon as the slide clicked the ammo in, the gun went off with a loud ear piercing crack noise that echoed as it sent its load straight into the taxidermy deer head over the entry door. The impact caused hair and plaster to rain down in a shower over the head of Deputy Moffit who was just coming in.
Quiet fell over the Bear Ass Pub. The silence filled every inch and cranny. Dust settled on the deputy, “It figures. Woody, what the hell are you doing with a gun?”